Wrist angles and high design: Tips for buying keyboards
By Sven Appel Feb 4, 2007, 14:36 GMT
Munich - Almost every PC comes with a keyboard. That means there's no reason to think any further about keyboards, right?
'Nonsense,' claim the experts, who lodge a variety of complaints about standard keyboards focusing on ergonomics. But design and integrated functions are also reasons for swapping a standard keyboard for a fancier one.
Users who spend a lot of time in front of the computer are particularly well advised to buy an ergonomic keyboard, says Stefan Willecke from Munich-based PC-Welt magazine. Keyboards of that kind reduce strain on the wrists. These models are often flat and usually include split the keyboard field into two segments. They also often include a track ball as a mouse. This prevents users from holding their hands at improper angles, which prevents repetitive stress pain in the long run.
Curved keyboards by contrast are all about optics, not ergonomics. 'Design is becoming a more and more important factor for customers,' says Stefan Kummer from Bavarian-based keyboard maker Cherry. Black and silver keyboards are the current favourites. Keyboards with piano optics are trendy right now too.
Keyboards with extra integrated functions can also make life easier when working or playing on the PC. Expensive models include a button to launch Window's pocket calculator program. Other keyboards allow users to assign the function of the extra buttons, meaning that an entire series of pre-defined events can be triggered with the press of a button.
That can be helpful to gamers too, since dedicated buttons can speed up the reloading of ammo or construction of buildings. Logitech offers gaming keyboard like the 'G15 Gaming Keyboard,' for example, with 18 'macro buttons' that can each be assigned three different functions. There is also a small integrated display for chatting with online parties, boasts product manager Sven Simon. Illuminated keyboards are also helpful for gaming in darkened rooms, Stefan Willecke notes.
Cherry also offers keyboards tailored to Linux: among other functions, they offer speedier switching between various desktops. Keyboards are also more and more frequently being offered to prevent unauthorized access to the user's computer: A scanner identifies the user by fingerprint. 'That's a nice function for private users,' Willecke finds.
Anyone with an MP3 player or digital camera understands the importance of keyboards with USB connections: this puts an end to fiddling around with the rear of the computer's casing when it's time to plug in the camera or music player. Cherry offers a keyboard with a USB Hub for roughly 50 dollars, for example.
Keyboards run anywhere from 10 dollars for a basic model to 300 dollars for keyboards with three USB ports. Simple ergonomic keyboards are available for 40 dollars. Keyboards last at least three to five years, says Sven Simon from Logitech. 'But they need to be taken care of,' Simon says. He uses a paint brush to clean the gaps between the keys. He also advises against eating or drinking near the keyboard.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur